|One spin-off from the project was that it provided a rare opportunity to carry out direct comparisons between Rayâ€™s original and still-packaged parts and the crop of reproduced items currently available for the E-type.|
Ray Parrott, a member of the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club and a Jaguar fanatic, knows all about E-types. He has five of them: a 3.8-litre Roadster, a Series 2 Fixed-head Coupé, a replica Lightweight and now two V12 Roadsters. An avid Jaguar devotee from an early age, heâ€™s owned 25 models in 17 years but he isnâ€™t completely obsessive â€“ he now has a Sunbeam Tiger, BMW 850 Alpina and a rally DB6, to complement the everyday Jaguar XKR and XJ6.
Ray is a self-taught engineer and has developed a significant number of skills in every aspect of vehicle restoration over the years. Now that he has set himself up with all the equipment and facilities needed to do most of the work on his cars, all his E-types get the â€˜Parrott touchâ€™ and have been adapted and improved for todayâ€™s driving conditions. They are always kept in pristine condition and in regular use.
Rayâ€™s passion for what he terms â€˜the ultimate classic carâ€™ was further fuelled about two years ago when he was contacted by Mike WilkinsonÂ of M&C Wilkinson Jaguar Spares, a Yorkshire-based Jaguar parts business of which Ray was a regular customer. Through his many contacts, Mike Wilkinson had been able to acquire a cache of original E-type parts. They turned out to be highly significant.
Back in 1974, when the final E-type left the Browns Lane assembly line, all the remaining parts were sold off to one gentleman who kept them in storage with the hope of using them for his own needs. He had several lorry loads of parts, all new and in their original packaging, which included significant items such as a complete Roadster bodyshell, an unused V12 engine and gearbox, a rear axle and all those little fixtures and fittings that go to make up a complete car. Eventually, due to age, the gentleman concerned sold the lot to Mike Wilkinson, who immediately thought of Ray because of his enthusiasm for all things E-type. What better person to benefit from some of these rare finds?
Discussions followed and it became clear after viewing a hastily compiled list of all the parts that it just might be possible to create a new E-type from them. Ray and Mike made a detailed appraisal during Rayâ€™s numerous visits to Mikeâ€™s premises in Yorkshire.
The amazing thing was that, although some parts were inevitably duplicated, there was sufficient of most things to actually build a complete Series 3 Roadster. Apart from the bodyshell, which had only suffered a few minor dents and surface rust, there were several made-up assemblies ready for installation, like the complete instrument panel with wiring and the radiator with all its connections, electric fans and cowls. These assemblies had been made up at Jaguar for despatch to the assembly line, and were ready to fit to a car.
Altogether, Mike and Ray estimated that there was 95 percent of what was required to complete the job, and that included a new set of original-spec Dunlop tyres! Amongst the numerous small packets of â€˜goodiesâ€™ there was even a brand new RAC Running In sticker.
A deal was struck and Ray, a haulier by profession, arranged for everything to be moved to his home in Essex for the project to commence. Mike agreed to supply back-up for any outstanding parts required, on the basis that they would only be original Jaguar parts and not reproduction items, so as to retain the authenticity of the finished car.
Rayâ€™s first priority was to get the bodyshell cleaned, the minor repair work carried out, and have the shell stripped and painted. This was the only work undertaken by an outside contractor; Ray undertook all the other jobs himself.
Deciding on the colour that the body should be painted was very difficult. Ray is fond of red but in the end he opted for black, as this was the colour chosen for 49 out of the last 50 E-types. It turned out to be a wise move, because most of these black cars had a tan interior, and, while Ray again thought about using red, he found virtually a complete set of tan trim in his cache of parts.